Coronavirus: New Zealand drops tariffs on medical imports to battle COVID-19

New Zealand will temporarily drop tariffs on all imported medical and hygiene products to help battle COVID-19.

So far New Zealand has 451 confirmed and probable cases and is on day three of a nationwide lockdown.

The tariffs will be removed first from all diagnostic reagents and testing kits, as well as soap imports.

Officials are looking at other medical and hygiene products tariffs can be dropped from too.

"There is increased global demand for these medical and hygiene products and some countries are restricting their exports of them," says Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi.

"We want to make sure that New Zealand has the most straightforward and cost-effective access possible to the supply of the goods needed to respond to COVID-19.

"Some imported products required for the COVID-19 response remain subject to tariffs. Removing tariffs on these products will reduce their cost of imports and facilitate access to them from the widest possible range of overseas suppliers."

Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker says it is important during the COVID-19 global pandemic trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and food continues to flow freely.

"We believe that global cooperation on trade can enable a better response to this global health crisis," he says.

"Removing tariffs on relevant products and spending $600 million of the more than $25 billion COVID-19 support package to keep air freight moving gives effect to this commitment.

"We are also actively exploring other initiatives with our trading partners to keep trade flowing."